Who doesn’t love it when a goalie decides to fight? They have a bit of an advantage, as they wield a freaking weapon on their right (or left) hand.
We’ll have a full night of hockey on NBCSN, and it starts at 8:00 p.m. ET when the Detroit Red Wings host the Boston Bruins. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
The Boston Bruins currently sit in the second place in the Atlantic Division, but that doesn’t mean their satisfied with their game right now. Actually, it might be the exact opposite of satisfied.
On Monday, the Bruins were shelled 4-0 at the Garden by the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New York Islanders.
The performance was so bad that head coach Claude Julien decided to cancel Tuesday’s practice so his players could rest and watch film.
“I still believe in this group; never have not believed in this group,” said Julien, per the Boston Herald. “Having said that, I understand there’s work to be done, and there’s challenges ahead. I said that last week . . . we’re trying to build on certain things here, but it’s a challenge. And we knew that from the get-go. We accept it. We accept the challenges in front of us. It doesn’t mean we accept the things that happened (Monday), but we still have to accept that there’s work to be done and we keep doing our work.”
If the playoffs started today, sure, the Bruins would have home ice advantage, but the playoffs don’t start today and Toronto and Ottawa are both just one point behind Boston and they each have five (yes, five) games in hand. The Flyers and Hurricanes, who are currently outside of the playoff picture, are just one and two points behind the Bruins.
Boston can’t afford to take anyone for granted.
The Red Wings are coming off a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, but they haven’t been very good this season.
If they don’t turn this thing around quickly, they’ll see their long playoff streak snapped at 25 seasons. Detroit is currently six points back of both the final Wild Card spot in the East and third place in the Atlantic Division.
Now would be as good a time as ever to go on a long winning streak, which they haven’t done since they won six straight in October.
“You don’t want to be on that team that doesn’t make (the playoffs),” said Henrik Zetterberg, per MLive.com. “We want to have a chance and we still have a chance, but we have to play the right away. We have good enough players that we can still make it, but we can’t get too carried away. It’s two wins and we haven’t had two wins (in a row) since October and that says a lot.”
After the Bruins-Red Wings game, NBCSN’s hockey coverage will continue in Los Angeles, where the Sharks will take on the Kings. You can watch that game online by clicking here.
After getting steamrolled, 4-0, by the Blues on Saturday night, the Sharks responded with a big 5-2 win over the Jets on Monday.
Finding the back of the net with regularity has been an issue for the Sharks, which is a little surprising when you see the offensive firepower they have on their roster. But if the San Jose makes a move between now and the deadline, it’ll likely be to add a forward that can score goals (they probably aren’t the only ones looking for that).
Only three teams have allowed less than the 102 goals San Jose has given up this season, but their 117 goals for currently ranks 20th in the NHL.
One way they’ll likely boost their offensive output is by getting Tomas Hertl back from injury. Hertl’s been out since Nov. 19 because of a knee injury. The 23-year-old scored 21 goals for the Sharks last season.
Like the Sharks, the Kings also do a good job of keeping the puck out of the net, but they’re struggling to create offense.
Los Angeles has given up just eight more goals than San Jose in 2016-17, but the issue is that they’ve also scored five less goals than the Sharks, which puts them in 24th place in that category.
The poster boy for offensive struggles is Kings captain Anze Kopitar, who’s managed to find the back of the net just four times in 38 games this season.
Kopitar missed Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Lightning because of an illness, but he told LAKingsInsider.com that he was starting to feel good about his offensive game before getting sick.
“I expect the very highest of myself, so yeah it’s not the best feeling when you look at numbers, just because of my personal expectation,” said Kopitar. Whatever the outside world thinks it’s not weighing on me as much as I do on my own, but like I said, I think things have been going in the right direction now and hopefully I can sustain it.”
On a positive note, the Kings have been terrific at home this season. They currently own a 14-7-1 record at Staples Center, which bodes well for their chances in tonight’s game.
–In a Q & A with NHL.com, Minnesota assistant coach Scott Stevens says this year’s edition of the Wild reminds him of the stingy Devils teams he played on. “It reminds me very much of the Devils in how we play. We definitely love to protect the middle of the ice. We might give up a few more shots, but we give up a lot of those perimeter shots and hopefully our goaltenders know where the shots are coming from,” said Stevens. (NHL.com)
–Many expect the Canadiens to try to land a top two center between now and the trade deadline, but in an interview with TSN 690 radio, GM Marc Bergevin says “you can never have too many defensemen.” If you listen to Bergevin, it sure sounds like he wants to add a mobile defender to play with Shea Weber. (TSN 690)
–The Chicago Blackhawks got some solid production from Vinne Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero in last night’s win over the Avalanche. You can watch the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.
–How much would you pay for a young NHL superstar’s game worn jersey? The jersey Auston Matthews wore during the first period of the Centennial Classic sold for an incredible amount of money. (Yahoo)
–Will we see Patrik Elias return to the New Jersey Devils this season? The 40-year-old underwent cartilage replacement surgery on his knee during the off-season, but he doesn’t seem willing to close the door on his NHL career just yet. Elias wants to make a final decision on his playing career by next month. (USA Today)
–Going through a scoring slump is never fun, but going through a scoring slump when you’re the captain of the Montreal Canadiens might be one of the more unbearable things in professional hockey. Max Pacioretty was able to overcome a slow start thanks to some big-picture thinking. “At the end of the day, look at the life we have, look where we’re playing. I love playing here so much, and the fact I’m able to be the captain here, it sounds cheesy, but what’s better in life right now? I’ve got a family, I’ve got an awesome team, I’m the captain of the best franchise in the world,” said Pacioretty. (NHL.com)
Talking about hockey toughness is pretty much a trope at this point, yet there are still moments that impress even the cynical among us.
Linesman Lonnie Cameron accomplished that for many on Tuesday, as he returned to the Nashville Predators – Vancouver Canucks game despite taking a puck to the head in a scary moment.
So, yeah, it seems like Cameron qualifies as “hockey tough.”
People have been wondering for years if Henrik Lundqvist would finally fall off track and, you know, look human. After the New York Rangers’ zany 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars, those rumblings are probably getting a little louder.
Don’t expect the Rangers to throw their star goalie under the bus, though, especially after a wide-open game like Tuesday’s goal-filled game at Madison Square Garden.
In fact, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is already penciling Lundqvist in for Thursday’s game against the rising Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He’s going to play, he’s going to try real hard, and we’re going to try to play better in front of him,” Vigneault said, according to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. “This is a team.”
Lundqvist, meanwhile, said about what you’d expect:
Naturally, Lundqvist and plenty of other Rangers threw the word embarrassing around quite a bit to describe this game, or at least the first 40 minutes. It’s just that no one’s really raking Lundqvist over the coals.
Is this time different?
Again, Lundqvist is no stranger to struggles, even if he struggles less often than just about any franchise goalie in recent memory.
Still, the sample size is getting large enough for this stretch to be a concern for the 34-year-old netminder.
While goal support and stretches of good play open the door for a respectable 18-12-1 record, Lundqvist’s allowing almost three goals per game (2.89 GAA) and has a backup-level .902 save percentage this season. And that’s over 32 games.
Things get even uglier if you focus on more recent events.
He’s allowed 20 goals in his past four starts, including allowing 12 tallies over four periods during the past two games. Lundqvist has a putrid .841 save percentage in January after producing great work in November (.925 save percentage in 11 games) and nice numbers in December (.915 in eight games).
Lundqvist has given up four goals or more on nine different occasions since Nov. 23.
In other words, there are a lot of different ways in which he’s struggling:
Is this a matter of Lundqvist regaining his focus or is “The King” finally abdicating his throne?
The Rangers are going to let him try to work through this. Otherwise, they might just need to hope that this is an off-year and *gulp* at least consider how far (an eventually healthy?) Antti Raanta could take them.